Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Chinese Wingnut - Pterocarya stenoptera

The Chinese Wingnut - Pterocarya stenoptera is a member of the Juglandaceae family. It is native to only China and can be grown in hardiness zones 6 to 8. A deciduous tree with a rounded and broadly spreading crown, the maximum height ranges from 50-70 feet tall with a spread of 50-70 feet. The Chinese Wingnut is considered to be easy to establish, and once established it is capable of tolerating some drought and soil compaction. Mature trees have agressive, shallow and also extensive root systems. The branches freely sucker if left untouched.they prefer well drained soil and full sunlight. Generally the Chinese Wingnut is planted as a shade tree as it requires a large area to reach full potential. The agressive root system could cause damage or issues if planted too close to sidewalks, foundations or other structures.

Image Citation: Fanghong - Own work, CC BY 2.5, Wikimedia Commons -

The name Chinese Wingnut comes from the unusual shape of the trees fruit. The fruit appear after the Spring flowering has occured. The fruit are small, green and winged nutlets, they develop in the female catkins during the early Summer. Each nutlet has two distinct wings and matures to a brown color in late Summer through early Fall, sometimes even remaining on the tree until Winter.

The flowers are light green and appear in pendulous catkins. The female catkins average about 20 inches long however the male only average 7 inches long. The flowers appear between May and June each year.

The leaves are compound and odd-pinnate, each leaf contains 11-25 shiny, elliptic-lanceolate, sharply toothed dark green leaflets 2-5 inches long. In most cases the terminal leaflet falls off making the leaves even-pinnate intead of odd-pinnate. In the fall the leaf color changes though not significantly to a more yellow-green.

Also in the same family (Walnut/Juglandaceae) is the Walnuts (Juglans), Hickory (Carya) and Wingnut (Pterocarya). The genus name for the wingnuts come from the Greek words ptero which means winged and karyon meaning nut. The Chinese Wingnut is often found hybridised with the Caucasian Wingnut which is very similar in all ways except the shape of the leaves and the type of wings on the fruits.

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